I’m a snob. I should have realized this many years ago. We moved from London via Australia, to a working class suburb of Nottingham in a rush thinking we needed 3 bedrooms and a large garden for the tiny little babby that was about to arrive. We were wrong. In the weeks after his arrival, the Health Visitor used sentences like “It’s important we get you integrated into the local community”. I just wasn’t interested. I only used to visit the small town centre to be reminded of what I good mother I was. The sights down there left a lot to be desired. So, I spent those first 4 years traveling into the Peaks or Nottingham for my kicks, blissfully ignoring “my local community”.
It wasn’t until this tiny little babby started school in September 2007 that I was forced into this community I’d so readily ignored. I suddenly found myself standing outside the school gates with a bunch of slightly unsavoury strangers. I quickly sussed out the ones I’d be willing to make eye contact with, y’know, creative looking but not in a “weirdo” way, friendly but not in a “neurotic, I’LL BE YOUR FRIEND” way. As for the others, well I have faked phone calls, tied imaginary shoe laces, unnecessarily attended to my sleeping baby, looked left, right, behind me and on one occasion at the sky to avoid conversation. I am a snob.
It’s not JUST my ignorant pre-conceptions that bring out this behaviour. It’s that I have 2 school runs a day, 5 days a week, 38 weeks a year for a minimum of 16 years once all my kids are through compulsory education. That’s 3040 potential meetings with someone that drives me nuts or makes me want to vomit. I’m just not willing to commit.
BUT, this is a new year and I made a resolution to “step out of my comfort zone”. And so, when one of the chavvy Mums from middle childs class came and asked if she would like to come to tea on Friday, I chose not to make up an imaginary visit to Grandma’s and instead smiled politely and accepted her kind invitation. We continued to chat, much to my discomfort, but within 5 minutes something wonderful started to happened.
This woman, clad in her shiny puffa and fake gold bling wasn’t JUST that. She was sweet, funny and I found myself smiling in her company as opposed to grimacing unashamedly. She got to telling me that she makes ALL her family dinners from scratch. What? No ASDA own pizza’s, tinned spaghetti and smiley faces? No chips in the fryer every night? No. She told me of delicious quiches she makes using spinach as the base because her fussy 5yo doesn’t like pastry, pesto as an alternative to tomato puree on home baked pizza’s, wonderful curries, pies, desserts, everything. She was great.
I guess you get my point. And yes I’m ashamed (mildly) but I’d guess most of you reading this adopt similar behaviour around people you’ve made your own judgements about. Well, I learned a lesson, an old, tired, yet hugely liberating lesson – “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. I can highly recommend it. I’ve not turned into Miss Sociable with the Mums at the school gates, I still stand there with a face like thunder, but I make less effort to avoid eye contact at all times. That’s a generously sized step out of my comfort zone.
There’s just one niggle I have. I hope to God my new chav friend is not a Twitter loving blog watcher. Coz if she is I’ll probably be invited up the Co-op car park later for a proper beatdown.